The Wyganowski brand was established in 1989 shortly after the changes of the political system in Poland. It was founded by Alice and Jakub Wyganowski who were involved at the time with many different design disciplines including ceramics, industrial forms, architecture and photography. In time, ceramic forms started to become much more expensive in crafting and after their designer jewellery started to gain more and more recognition not only in Poland but also in the United States they decided to focus on jewellery. Since then Wyganowski Fine Jewellery gained many awards across the world and was exhibited among others in Museum of Modern Art in New York. For the past 20 years they limited their interest to the local market, occasionally exhibiting their jewellery in Germany and the USA
In 2011 Alice and Jakub Wyganowski decided to take advantage of modern day technology they started a website and since then they are trying to establish themselves in European market.
Thing that brought you together...
Alice: ... besides feelings, ceramics. When we first met, Kuba already had a studio.
Kuba: And do you remember when back in the days, when we used to drive Fiat 125p with jugs and cups at the Institute of Industrial Design? We look, and there's a queue. Why is there such a big queue, we ask? Much to our surprise it turned out all those people came to get our ceramic, it was quite a shock.
When and how did you decide to design Jewellery...
Alice: In a way it was out of necessity. At some point, costs of making ceramics in Poland exceed the actual income, and we simply couldn’t afford it. So we started to look for other ways to express our interest in design.
Kuba: To be honest we envied our friends whose work could fit in one suitcase. We drove our car loaded to the roof at that time. So we decided to sit down and look for a way of expression we would both be happy with and where our talents could best utilized.
The greatest success...
Alice: Our works were sold in prestigious galleries around the world, among others MoMA in New York. Another thing for us, as designers the most important thing is the fact that people enjoy our work. Being able to create jewellery that women are happy to wear, both in everyday use and on special occasions is really a great feeling.
Kuba: Well pretty much what Alice said but also for me “the noodles” or - how our German friends define them - spaghetti. They are made from silver tubes strung on a string. They were made over 20 years ago and to this day they are the base for loads of our projects.
What about the new things...
Alice: We opened a jewellery workshop. The lecturers are our friends. Suchodolski, Jaworski, Byczewski, Wysokiński they will talk about the secrets of their work. So far, everyone took it to the grave.
Kuba: In Poland, there was no proper school. Now that you've mastered the technique, we want to tell you how to make a silver orb, and give it color,and to come up with a clasp. You can say that we just wanted to provide a proper environment for students eager to learn for the best.
Alice: Kuba, you should say something about “the cocoons”.
Kuba: Maybe not (laughs) for the seventh time I’m coming back to this topic - silver objects-like cocoons. And all the time there is something wrong. May it finally succeed? We will see about that I’m also experimenting with strings. I'm doing great string necklace with a big silver clasp. Actually, it will be mostly ... clasp.
Alice: Kuba believes that he invented only one percent of what he can come up with – so he is still very eager to do create more.
You've been dealing with jewellery design for more than 30 years now? How do you perceive your newest designs, which we can see on the website in comparison with your previous ones?
Alicja and Jakub Wyganowski: Our attitude towards jewellery hasn't changed much. Commercial jewellery is a functional form, which has to play it's role - it's not pure art. That's how we perceived jewellery 30 years ago and how we do it now. We were never influenced by fashion, we were trying to work on our own style. It allowed us to resume our previous designs adapted to modern times and modern customers. The most important thing for us was to create a style of our jewellery which is supposed to be functional and aesthetic. We worked out so called noodles which are always a starting-point for most of our designs. What more - Jakub's nickname is a tube-man as all of our designs are based on tube forms: rolled up, twisted, thin or thick. There are some designs that have never been generally accepted, but after some changes, we come back to it. There are some which caught on welll but we no longer make them. We plan to resume so called cocoons that we've presented several times already. They have never caught on. The first time we presented them was in the 90's and the most recent one about 2 years ago. Here you have a great example of market verification.
What other questions may come out when one designs jewellery?
Alicja and Jakub Wyganowski: E.g. a depreciation of an object by an incompetent inspiration. Inspiration is a natural process. We all do inspire. But we admire those designers who get inspired by a jewellery form but their own inspired work is ahead of the previous concept. It's easy to destroy a project by an imitation. This imitation may cause a different view on the previous form / object / jewellery piece, a view that affects clients. But at the same time inspiration mobilizes...
What other matters are also important?
Alicja and Jakub Wyganowski: The background of a designer. We both, Alicja and I, at the beginning didn't deal only with jewellery - we also dealt with photography, ceramic, furniture design and architectural forms. Jakub takes pictures of the suburbs of Warsaw and Cracow while paragliding from the birds-eye view. We assume that a jewellery designer should be an artist in general. And a good artist pays attention to everything that he or she is surrounded with. Being able to design a toilet brush is as important as to design jewellery pieces, and as well as to express oneself with different means of expression or draw something when one is asked to without feeling ashamed of one's drawing.
Are there any of your designs that you admire most or that you are fond of?
Alicja and Jakub Wyganowski: Our designs keep their style and it would be difficult to choose just one object. But the feathers which are our latest design are an interesting proposal, although we still search for their final form.
And your designs best received by your clients?
Alicja and Jakub Wyganowski: The fatty one for sure! It was designed at the beginning of the 90's and keeps being made and gaining new clients, that really surprises us.
Objects / services designed for people are addressed to precisely defined groups. Commercial jewellery is designed to be sold. Who do you address your jewellery to?
Alicja and Jakub Wyganowski: At the very beginning we didn’t think of any defined group of customers, we just wanted to create. In the meantime it turned out that both elegant and casual dressed women wear our jewellery. It is worn e.g. by Irena Eris or Monika Richardson. Basically our idea was to create objects that were functional and possible to be worn both in the evening and for a shopping trip, objects both elegant and modest, not standing out but decorative, objects that compose well with a woman's image, adding certain gentleness to it and underlining natural beauty.
Also a kind of an elasticity of the basic form was important to us, adequate for different occasions. Our first designs, to our surprise, caught on very well and our first chain pieces from the late 80's were bought willingly, although their buyer's profile hadn't been defined earlier.
What materials have you worked with and which satisfy you most?
Alicja and Jakub Wyganowski: We've been working in silver from the very beginning, because we design a rather big form which means it wouldn't be remunerative to make it in gold. Remember that commercial jewellery is designed to earn money.
Our first designs were a combination of silver and dim gems. We stopped selling it when it became too popular. Nowadays we combine silver with amber or precious stones, always keeping these just as adds. What distinguishes our jewellery is the fact that every single piece of it is handmade and therefore unique, even the clasps are handmade. They are an important part of the whole design of e.g. a necklace that complements the whole composition, being both functional and decorative.
Is jewellery art or craft? What is jewellery? Can it be perceived in the terms of art?
Alicja and jakub Wyagnowski: Jewellery that we both deal with is commercial jewellery. It's craft, designed with the exceptional attention to details but it isn't art. These pieces are not one of a kind, although handmade and designed by us from the very beginning. Art pieces cannot be copied and we work in series. Our jewellery pieces base on the same projects that differ slightly but we do recall the same idea, the same form. We do not call it artistic jewellery but rather use the term fine or designer jewellery instead.
We also decided not to take part in jewellery contests as we focus on a certain way of thinking: our jewellery is a day to day functional object designed to earn money. And we don’t perceive ourselves as artists. Art requires unique pieces. Imagine a situation when a woman comes to a jewellery gallery and buys a ring. Then she drops in to another shop and on her way back home she realizes that another identical ring is already shown in the other jewellery gallery. This is not art. This is craft. Every art piece needs to have a receiver and functionality of jewellery doesn't mean it cannot be perceived as art. But pure art jewellery allows just few people in Europe to earn their livings from it. Usually jewellery designers divide their work into two parts: commercial and artistic jewellery. We are not able to divide our ways of thinking thus we focus just on the commercial site of jewellery design. We used to take part in several competitions but then again all the forms presented there were close to our commercial jewellery. I have to admit that on rare occasions our most wealthy clients order some unique art pieces that are one of a kind, but commercial fine jewellery is our primary focus right now.